JACKSONVILLE, Florida (WTVD) -- If this was to mimic a regular season game, head coach Ron Rivera has to be pleased with how his projected starters performed. His reserves held on for a 24-23 victory against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Cam Newton took snaps on only one drive, the first for him in a game since having offseason shoulder surgery. Newton was in for 10 plays and threw a touchdown pass for an early 7-0 lead.
The quarterback handed the ball to either Jonathan Stewart or Christian McCaffrey on six consecutive straight plays to open the series. On his second touch, Stewart ripped off a 31-yard gain. Newton threw twice, a check-down 12-yard gain to McCaffrey to get into the red zone, and finally ending the drive with a 9-yard touchdown toss to Kelvin Benjamin, who was single covered on a slant.
The first-team defense followed that up with a 3-and-out which featured a sack by Mario Anderson on Jaguars starter Chad Henne. After what appeared to be a second defensive stop following a big hit by Luke Kuechly and Kurt Coleman, the Panthers were caught off guard on a fake punt.
Chad Grant went 51 yards on a direct snap to set up the Jags just outside the 20. More mistakes followed for the Panthers - on third-and-long, Kaawan Short was called for a personal foul for grabbing Henne's face mask.
A few plays later, Chris Ivory scored to make it 7-7.
Graham Gano was back as the starting placekicker and booted a 31-yard field goal to give Carolina a 10-7 lead. Jacksonville answered that just before the half capitalizing on a Derek Anderson interception.
Newton's backup finished the game 10-of-19 passing for 66 yards and the interception - not a great performance by any stretch.
Joe Webb was inactive nursing a sore shoulder, and QB Garrett Gilbert played the final quarter and a half.
Somehow the game began on time. About 70 minutes prior to kickoff, lightning in the area forced officials to clear the stadium.
The Panthers wrap up the preseason at home against the Steelers next Thursday.